Monday, February 22, 2010

In-laws' Chicken Stew

What to make for dinner? This question creeps into my head sometimes as soon as I wake up in the morning and most days around 4pm as my work day is drawing to a close. The answer often depend on what ingredients I have in my pantry / fridge / freezer, what I think K may like that day or how much energy I have left in me to cook.  For tonight's dinner I made my in-laws' chicken stew. I had all the necessary ingredients available, I was tired but managed to gather up the energy to cook and K always appreciates this chicken stew.  K's family is Guyanese American, and according to him this Guyanese chicken stew was made pretty frequently by his parents when he was growing up. I've had it a few times prepared by my father-in-law and I've watched him prepare it maybe once. I'm not sure if this recipe is authentic. Fortunately K says mine tastes very close to his dad's. I've used scotch bonnet pepper because it's readily available here. My in-laws typically use a little red berry-looking pepper they call the wiri wiri pepper. K likes to have his stew with some Guyanese pepper sauce made from the wiri wiri pepper. Here's some more info on the wiri wiri pepper from Meroza's blog.  And here is a beautifully presented explanation on chilis by Cynthia of Tastes Like Home.

2 lbs. chicken thighs skinned, cleaned and chopped half
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 medium sized onion sliced thin
3 garlic cloves minced
¼ scotch bonnet pepper, minus the seeds
1 teaspoon sugar
~ 1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
2 plum tomatoes
1 cup hot water
3 potatoes peeled and cut into pieces about the same size as chicken pieces.
4 scallions chopped

Heat oil in heavy bottom pot at a medium flame.  Sauté onions, garlic and scotch bonnet pepper until onion is translucent.  Season with a generous pinch of salt and one teaspoon of sugar.  Continue to sauté a few more seconds.  Add chicken and begin to mix and fry with onion mixture.  Adjust the flame as you go to prevent sticking. Season with remainder of salt and black pepper.  Continue to fry the chicken a few minutes or until lightly browned.  Add two tablespoons of tomato paste and mix to coat the chicken and continue to fry.  Add the sliced tomatoes and fry until the tomatoes soften and cook down.  Continue to stir to prevent the tomatoes from sticking to the bottom.  When the oil and tomato begins to separate add the water, mix, and turn the flame up to high.  When the stew begins to boil, cover with a lid and lower the flame to low.  Cook for about 45 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.  This part is tricky; add the potatoes and the scallions when you think there is about 15-20 minutes of cooking time left.  The potatoes should be fork tender but not mushy.  Serve over rice.

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